Debts and arrears

How we recover council tax debts

If you’ve received a summons and don't pay the outstanding balance or set up a payment plan by the court date, we will obtain a Liability Order to recover the debt.

We will send you a letter with details of the Liability Order and the action we may take to recover the debt. The letter will also include a financial statement which you will need to complete and return to us. When we have received the financial statement we will make arrangements with you to clear your debt based on your personal circumstances.

If you don't return the financial statement or cooperate with us we will use one of the following methods to recover the debt.

Attachment to earnings

An attachment of earnings order means we can order your employer to deduct a regular amount from your salary and pay it directly to your council tax arrears. The amount your employer deducts will depend on how much you earn.  If this puts you in financial hardship please contact us as we may be willing to accept smaller payments.

Deductions from benefits

If you receive Universal Credit, Income Support (IS), Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Guarantee Pension Credit (GPC), we may apply for deductions to be made directly from your benefits.

Enforcement Agents (bailiffs)

Your debt will be passed to one of our nominated Enforcement Agents to recover on our behalf. Once it has been handed to the Enforcement Agents you will need to discuss your debt with them directly. This action will incur additional fees at each stage of the enforcement process.

Enforcement Agents:

  • have the right to peaceful entry to your home
  • can't force entry unless they have a signed Control of Goods Agreement
  • have the power to remove certain goods to clear the debt, if you are not able to pay the debt in full
  • can't remove goods belonging to your landlord -  you will need to provide proof of ownership if you are a tenant

Charging orders and Orders for Sale

If you owe £1000 or more in council tax we may apply to the County Court for a charging order on your property. If the balance remains unpaid we can apply for an order for sale to force the sale of the property to clear the amount owed.

Bankruptcy and liquidation

Insolvency proceedings may commence if you do not pay the money you owe. Proceedings may be against an individual or a limited company.


We may take this step if other means of recovery have been unsuccessful.

In these circumstances, we will issue a summons for you to attend a committal hearing at the magistrates' court. It will then be for the magistrates to decide on matters of wilful refusal and culpable neglect. The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.

Vulnerable persons

We may consider taking the debt back from the Enforcement Agents if we have evidence that you are vulnerable.

If you consider yourself to be vulnerable please contact us or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for help and advice.

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